Coral Mushrooms - Ramaria
These are my personal experiences harvesting, cleaning, freezing, dehydrating and cooking Coral Mushrooms - Ramaria. Coral mushrooms are prolific in the Pacific Northwest and they can be found any time conditions are right for them all year long. Delicious and easy to identify, there are many color variations around the world, we typically find yellow and pink ones. I think I prefer the yellow.
In the field
Coral mushrooms can appear anytime the conditions are right and they will often appear when it's too cold for other fungi so this is one of the first things we find in the early spring. There was still a bit of snow on the ground near this specimen when I found it.
Generally, all you will see are some of the tops of the coral crowns peeping through the forest duff and much of the mushroom will be below the surface. The crowns are the best part most of the time because bugs usually invade the thick lower portion and make it unpalatable for most people.
Brush away the duff as best you can then cut anything off of the bottom you don't want to bring home. You'll be glad you left the dirt and bugs behind.
More to Come - This is a work in progress so check back for more recipes and mushroom adventures from our upcoming 2023 Spring mushroom Season!
We can't wait for this season to begin. The snow pack and rains we've had this winter are sure to bring us lots of fungi!
Cleaning Coral Mushrooms - Ramaria
Don't clean the Ramaria with anything but a dry brush or towel until you are ready to cook or otherwise preserve them.
When you have them home, store them in a paper bag in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook or otherwise prepare them. They will keep like that for a few days. If they look like they are drying out, add a damp paper towel to the bag if you haven't got the time to prepare them in some way.
Do inspect them closely for signs of insects and don't let them linger too long before processing. The insect eggs and larva will continue to develop and you could loose your beautiful mushrooms to an infestation. It can happen very quickly with corals in my experience.
When you are ready to prepare them, start by pulling them apart into smaller pieces so you can work them with a soft bristle toothbrush using tapping motions to remove pine needles and debris. The small pieces are much easier to work with. If you happen to be very lucky to find the thick bottom part of the mushroom is firm and bug free, you can slice it into smaller pieces and eat that too of course!
Dehydrating and Freezing Ramaria
Coral Mushrooms are easy to dehydrate. I use an Excalibur dehydrator and dry them after cleaning them. This usually takes 12 hours depending on size and quantity. I set the dehydrator on a fruit setting of about 135 degrees.
After they are sufficiently dried, I store them in canning jars in a cool dark place until I am ready to rehydrate them in warm water for 15 - 30 minutes before cooking. Save the liquid from rehydrating for use in your recipe if it calls for any liquid.
I also like to freeze them individually on sheet trays that I have lined with parchment paper. Be sure to cook them directly from frozen, do not thaw them. The texture when cooked from frozen is so close to fresh you would never know they were ever frozen.
After they are frozen, usually overnight, I put them in a freezer bag and I can retrieve only what I intend to cook at any given time.